Review of Cast Away: Poems for Our Time

Cast Away: Poems for Our Time
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Middle School, High School    Greenwillow    159 pp.
2/20    978-0-06-290769-1    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-290771-4    $10.99

Current Young People’s Poet ­Laureate Nye finds inspiration in those things we throw away — as well as in the act of throwing things away and that of picking them up again. It’s a surprisingly flexible metaphor for this collection of over eighty free-verse, free-range poems, from the lyrical to the humorous, ecological to political, brief to meandering. In “Not a Bagel, But…” Nye commemorates poet David Ignatow, thanking him for “an image from a poem which can / stay with you your whole life,” and in her relaxed, conversational style, she drops many such images so casually arrived at that they are all the more convincing. “Trees are ferocious. / They might be planning things. / How can we ever again sit calmly in the shade?” The collection is divided into five sections (whose distinctions elude this reviewer), but they don’t interfere with the eminent browsability of the volume. Pick up a poem, why don’t you?

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.
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Steven Withrow

An enjoyable read overall, and I would say the same of a few other poetry titles reviewed recently in The Horn Book, but where are today's equivalents of the daring collections and ably edited anthologies that we still cherish from past decades? (See the NCTE poetry award winners.) I foresee a gaping gulf in the 811 section of the library in coming decades, which would be a great loss for a cornerstone category of children's literature. There are many gifted poets out there, but I contend that they don't do their best work in theme-constrained, picture-book-style collections and ephemeral anthologies. Individual voices need leeway and latitude; verse needs more attention to form and craft. End of mini-rant. Stay healthy!

Posted : Apr 02, 2020 08:22


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